PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6339


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 08/03/1984

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 6339

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be here with you this morning
to open the third Australia-Japan Bilateral Conference of
Editors and Publishers.
To have in Australia so many leading representatives of the
Japanese media is a very real plus for both our countries.
You, individually and collectively, have an important role
to play in contributing to the further development, of the
Australia-Japan relationship.
The media, editors, publishers, and writers today make a
major contribution to shaping the views of the general.
public and their perceptions of the relationship between
nations. You have all now seen something of our country and our
society and met with many prominent Australians.
You will obviously draw your own conclusions.
On one thing I am sure you will agree relations between
our two countries are as close now as they have ever been.
There is a very real warmth of feeling between our
countries. My own recent visit to Japan brought home to me how close
and how important our countries have become to each other.
Indeed that visit was significant in anotbher sense: it laid
the basis for a revitalization of the relationship between
our countries new directions and new emphases appropriate
to the chanqing national and international circumstances of
our countries were mapped out ar1ffgiven substance.
There is without doubt substantial goodwill in Japan
particularly at the highest political level towards
Australia. if W

This was also apparent in the attitudes of the leaders of
industry and of Japan's financial community whom I met
during my recent visit.
I can assure you the same goodwill exists towards Japan
among Australian Government and business leaders indeed it
is something which now extends deep into the Australian
community. I know you would all have recognised and
appreciated this during your current visit.
Australia and Japan have substantial and shared interests in
the trade and economic fields.
The interdependence between our countries is widely
recognised it stems directly from the complementary
character of our two economies. The stability and quality
of the economic relationship has contributed directly to the
close political relationship that has grown up between our
countries. That relationship hinges on mutual trust and an
awareness of the importance of each of our countries to the
other. It is against this background that the Joint Statement
issued following my discussions with Prime Minister Nakasone
assumes a particular significance.
In that statement both Prime Minister Nakasone and I
reaffirmed the immense importance to both our countries of
our bilateral relationship. We reaffirmed our common
commitment to the ideals of freedom and democracy and the
commitment of both our countries to further strengthening
our co-operation with other countries in the region to
ensure peace, stability and prosperity.
Both Prime Minister Nakasone and I were in particularly
strong agreement on the need for liberalisation of
international trade. I was strongly supportive of Prime
Minister Nakasone' s call for a new round of multilateral
trade negotiations. Prime Minister Nakasone in turn
endorsed my 22 November 1983 Bangkok call to countries of
the region to work together to secure. generally agreed
objectives in such negotiations.
I am pleased to say my Bangkok initiative is now being
translated into concrete action with a meeting of senior
officials likely to take place in an Asean country in early
May to address the issues involved.
This meeting is a crucial step, providing as it will an
opportunity for countries of thel~% gion very deliberately
and methodically to identify their concrete interests in a
multilateral round and to consider how best to secure
attention to those interests. The long-term benefits to the
region of this workman-like, co-operative approach will I
believe be very considerable.

The assurance given me by Prime Minister Nakasone that Japan
would not solve its trading problems with third countries at
the expense of Australia-Japan trade is of critical
significance to a number of Australian trading interests. I
recognise the considerable pressure being applied by some
others for major trading concessions by Japan. The
assurance given by Prime Minister Nakasone and reiterated
by him in a telephone discussion we have had following my
return to Australia represents, however, a recognition
both of the enduring qualities of Australia as a reliable
and competitive supplier and the dangers posed to orderly
international trading arrangements of any surrender to
bilateralism. Trading arrangements struck on the basis of
anything other than the competitive edge of suppliers are
inherently fragile and destructive of good relations between
countries. These principles find immediate application in the talks
between Australian and Japanese officials about Australian
access to the Japanese beef market in 1984/ 85 and beyond.
Australia is naturally concerned to maintain its position in
the Japanese beef market. Indeed Australia should like to
see Japan be somewhat more forthcoming on these negotiations
than they have been to date. As a reliable and competitive
supplier I believe Australia can expect to sustain its
position and see continued growth in its beef exports to
Japan. This is not to say that there is no scope for change in the
pattern of Australia's trade with Japan. Indeed one of the
dominant themes of my recent visit to Japan was an
acknowledgement of the need to diversify Australian trading
interests in Japan to broaden the basis of our trading
The face of Japanese industry is changing and with it
Japanese industries' resource requirements. The adjustment
of Japan to a lower long-term GDP growth path also imposes a
need to review established assumptions about traditional
trading patterns with Japan.
The Australian Government, and I believe many of our
exporters, recognise this and are % oving to make the
necessary adjustments.
Action is already underway to develop newwmarkets for
Australian products in Japan. Japanese consultants have
already been engaged by the Australian Department of Trade
to assist in the identification of areas where Australia
should be targeting its marketing-qffort in the future. We
recognise that Japan is a specialised market with problems
of trade penetration quite different from those in other
traditional Australian overseas market.

Already, we see prospects in Japan for increased Australian
exports of manufacturing goods, services and processed
We also aim to take full advantage of Japan's import
expansion scheme. With this in mind Australia will this
year be sending a senior trade mission to Japan. We expect
as well a Japanese import expansion mission similar to those
that have gone to the United States and EC to come to
Australia. There is then considerable momentum in the efforts now
underway to expand and diversify Australia's trade links
with Japan.
The trading relationship will be further enriched by changes
now taking place in Australia's own economic situation.
Economic recovery is now well underway here in Australia.
Real Australian GDP is now expected to grow by 8 per cent
this financial year. Inflation has dropped from over 11 per
cent to 8.6 per cent and will fall further; employment is
growing and unemployment has fallen to 9.5 per cent.
Critical to this recovery has been the Prices and Incomes
Accord agreed between my Government and the Australian Trade
Union movement. Adherence to the Accord by all parties
gives confidence of restraint in wage demands and underpins
a more orderly pattern of Australian industrial relations.
Indeed in the 12 months period to November 1982 the number
of days lost due to industrial disputes dropped by over
per cent and was at the lowest level for 15 years. This
trend can only serve to reassure Australia's trading
partners of her reliability as a supplier.
With economic recovery and with the quite deliberate
attention the Australian Government is giving to securing
conditions conducive to medium and longer-term growth you
can also expect to see a healthy measure of industrial
restructuring taking place here in Australia.
Already my Government has put into place a steel industry
assistance plan which has assured the survival of the steel
industry as a viable, efficient and critically important
Australian industry. In the process we have put in place
arrangements designed to sustain employmeat within the
industry and ensure its long-term competitiveness. This was
achieved through the combined efforts of Government, unions
and the industry itself. Government provided constructive
assistance, industry the needed TMTVestment and unions
productivity guarantees.
Both the objectives and approach adopted in this case stand
as precedent for the manner in which the Government is
addressing the problems of the Australian motor vehicle

Our own experience in this area served as useful background
to the discussions I had in Japan about Japanese experience
in industry restructuring. Those discussions were a
particularly valuable feature of my recent visit to Japan.
An especially stimulating account of Japanese experience was
given me by Mr Amaya, formerly Vice Minister for
International Trade and Industry. I am pleased that he has
been able to accept our invitation to visit Australia,
probably next month, to discuss further Japanese experience
in the handling of issues involved in restructuring.
For Australians the inevitability of gradual change in our
industry structures poses the particular challenge of
anticipating that change rather than merely reacting to it.
It will be individual firms which will take the crucial
decisions upon which Australia's competitive edge will
hinge; it is not for Government to get into the business of
picking " winners" and " losers"
But Government can provide a framework, can define more
precisely the context within which industrial change will
occur. Already work has been set in train through the
Economic Planning Advisory Council ( EPAC) to establish the
necessary data base on macroeconomic and industry trends. I
have also formed a committee of Cabinet Ministers under the
chairmanship of the Minister for Industry and Commerce,
Senator Button, to consider what policy instruments need to
be developed and to see that required integration of the
diverse policy elements education, trade, industry, and
finance takes place.
I believe there is a role, and an important one, in this
area for the Australian media. Let me comment on this point
more generally.
I was struck in Japan by the extent to which the media is
accepted as an integral even if at times highly critical
part of the process of developing community understanding of
policy issues.
I have long thought the media has a vital role to play in
ensuring public awareness of the issues involved in
Government policy. Particularly wh~ re change is involved,
it will only be managed satisfactorily if underlying
community attitudes and assumptions shift to meet it. This
presumes understanding both of the consequences of change
and of the costs likely to be associated with failure to
meet it.
This is not to suggest that the m~ ia adopt the role of
apologist. Rather it is an invitation to a more analytical,
more involved approach from the media.

A far more intimate relationship exists in Japan between
Government policy makers and the media than i the case here
in Australia. Tn part this reflects different institutional
traditions traditions I am certain we cannot and should
not try to emulate here in Australia. But as a well
developed system of access to the decision-making process
and of responsibility in the handling of this access, the
Japanese pattern makes for both a healthy openness in
Government and for greater community awareness of the basis
or background to options for decision.
This of course does not guarantee immunity from criticism
n" orr oosth-obuilndd iintg." , Tdhoiess phroowceevsesr, heclapll enda rrion w Jadpiafnf er" ennecmeasw asahnid" or
contributes to the building of a national consensus on
matters of long-term significance.
Crucial to this process is public access something my
Government has appreciated from the outset.
Indeed the Australian Labor Government has been more open
than any before it. Whether in economic policy, foreign
policy, industry policy, education policy, or welfare policy
to name but a few areas we have laid out our assumptions
and proposals and invited community response before
definitively locking policy decisions into place.
The role the media can play in exposing these assumptions
and in communicating what is proposed is critically
important. It is also a heavy responsibility one I am
sure none of you would underestimate.
But, Mr Chairman, understanding between nations hinges on
more than this.
Cross-cultural links and exchanges between our peoples are a
particularly effective method of strengthening relations.
In the case of Japan and Australia, working holiday schemes
and personal initiatives have seen substantial numbers of
our young people, including my own daugher, go to each
other's country with lasting benefits in terms of a
greater understanding of our diffeifent cultures. A frequent
exchange of visits by parliamentary delegations,
journalists, trade union leaders and other special overseas
visitors also ensures that the depth of contact between our
two nations increases each year.
Evidence of the importance of these visit schemes was the
fact that most of the leaders I r~ rt while on my recent visit
to Japan had visited Australia during the past decade or so.
There is, however, as both Prime Minister Nakasone and I
agreed, scope for development of still closer political
relations between Australia and Japan.

Prime Minister Nakasone and I have established a " hot line"
between us. Beyond this we also intend significantly to
extend the range of contact and consultations between our
Governments on matters of common political interest. This
will be the case on particular crises whether regional or
global as they arise, as well as on matters of broader
policy interest such as disarmament.
Indeed on disarmament I was impressed by the degree or
coincidence between Australia's and Japan's views. Both our
countries attach great importance to securing progress in
arms control and disarmament negotiations and will be
co-operating in our efforts to find ways of reducing
existing nuclear arsenals and limiting the horizontal
proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The United Nations and other relevant multilateral fora will.
be the obvious place to focus this collaborative effort.
Indeed in those fora I should expect the pattern of
consultation to extend beyond disarmament issues alone into
a wide spectrum of issues of mutual interest. We are, after
all, both countries sharing a deep concern and involvement
with the interests of the Asia/ Pacific region. As such
there is a natural basis for co--operative endeavour a
. basis which should advantage not only Japan and Australia
but also be of benefit to all countries within the region.
Even where differences exist, we have been able to discuss
them constructively. On the matter of the dumping of.
nuclear waste in the Pacific, for example, Prime Minister
Nakasone and I discussed frankly Japan's concerns regarding
safe disposal of waste from its nuclear industry. I made
clear Australia's and the South pacific region's strong
concern about the proposals for ocean dumping, welcoming at
the same time indicatio ' ns that the Japanese were exploring
other possibilities for disposal. Australia certainly hopes
that land-based nuclear waste disposal methods continue to
be pursued.
Mr Chairman
It will be obvious from what I havd said that between
Australia and Japan today there is a rich and diverse
Neither country can afford to be complacent about the
relationship; but if my recent visit is any guide, I think
we can be confident that all concerned are working together,
both here in Australia and in Ja M to consolidate and
extend the already strong bonds which exist between us.
This is as it should be and augers well for the future
prosperity of both our countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you every success with vour
conference, and our Japanese visitors a memorable stay in
Australia. It gives me much pleasure to declare this Conference open.

Transcript 6339